The decision to choose Israel to mass test his coronavirus vaccine was not based on “emotional connection,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Tuesday.
In a video message shared at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference, he shared that Israel “has a special place in my heart."
"It not only represents the fulfillment of a dream, but a safe harbor that we feel can protect us and our children from things that happened in the past.”
Bourla is a Jewish man from Thessaloniki, Greece, and the son of Holocaust survivors.
However, Bourla stressed, his decision to sell enough vaccines to Israel to inoculate anyone who has wanted to get the jab as many as three times was “a heavily considered decision.”
“And given the results,” he added, “I am happy to say, a very wise one.”
Bourla said he had been looking for one country to demonstrate what the vaccine could do.
“Simply put, Israel had all the right conditions: Israel’s Ministry of Health is one of the best in the world, as is Israel’s healthcare system," he said. "The small population of Israel made the study manageable. Israel has a high degree of electronic data [and a] monitoring system connected to an overwhelming majority of the population.
“And finally, and very important, no country has more experience in managing crises.”
He said that both Israel and Pfizer were prepared for the challenge and called the results of their collaboration “phenomenal.”
So far, nearly 6.2 million Israelis have received at least one shot of the Pfizer vaccine. In total, between first, second and third jabs, nearly 16 million doses have been administered in the country.
“But we do not have the luxury of resting on our laurels. Our work is far from done,” Bourla stressed. “Pfizer is committed to staying one step ahead of the virus.”
He said Pfizer would spend the coming months working toward expanded emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 booster, continuing to submit regulatory data from its clinical trial studying the safety and efficacy of its vaccine in children five-11 years of age, and on the development of a potential COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment.
Bourla added that some of this work could be done with Israel.
“We look forward to working with Israel’s academic and scientific communities in many areas,” he said. “As always, we will follow the science.”